What will be the impact of Brexit if I have been legally residing in the United Kingdom for more than 5 consecutive years?
Until 31 December 2020
Until 31 December 2020 a transition period applies in accordance with the Withdrawal Treaty during which the current situation is maintained. You benefit from a right of permanent residence in the United Kingdom after 5 years of continuous legal residence. In principle, continuous legal residence means that you did not spend more than 6 months in any period of 12 months outside the United Kingdom. Among other things, this status entails the right to stay indefinitely in the United Kingdom.
From 1 January 2021
If you resided in the United Kingdom before 31 December 2020 and you would like to continue to reside there after that date, you must consolidate your permanent residency right by applying for a “settled status” in due time via the EU Settlement Scheme. It is already possible to register now and you can do so until 30 June 2021. In fact, this is a grace period of 6 months which extends the transition period for EU citizens who arrived in the UK before 31 December 2020. Nonetheless, it is in your own interest to register as soon as possible and ideally before 31 december 2020 via the EU Settlement Scheme.
You can obtain a “settled status” as soon as you meet the applicable conditions, without the discretion of the British authoritities. Please note that more information about the procedure can be found on under ‘Practical suggestions for Belgians living in the United Kingdom’.
If your application is successful, your “settled status” will be registered digitally. This status will be maintained for life, for you and your family members. Your family members also have to file a separate application, unless they have British or Irish nationality. Please note: a “settled status” may be repealed in the case of continued absence from the United Kingdom for 5 years and 1 day.
Furthermore, you can enter and leave the United Kingdom provided you are in possession of a valid identity card or passport. If you have a “settled status” in the context of the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be able to enter and leave the UK with a valid identity card until at least 31/12/2025. With an "EEA family permit", your family members, originating from a non-EEA country, have easier and quicker access to the United Kingdom.
Conclusion: if you resided in the United Kingdom before the end of the transition period (31/12/2020) and can demonstrate that you have accumulated 5 years of continuous legal residence on the date of your application, you will need to apply for the “settled status” before 30 June 2021 in order to continue to live in the United Kingdom after that date. Nonetheless, it is in your own interest to register as soon as possible and ideally before 31 december 2020 via the EU Settlement Scheme.